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Instagram’s VP of Product Provides Insight into its Hidden Like Count Test

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Instagram’s hidden like counts test has been a source of much debate since the platform first announced the trial back in April last year.

Why would Instagram do this? What will the impacts be on measurement? Will it cause people to post more or less as a result?

Thus far, Instagram hasn’t provided many answers, but this week, we got a little more insight into the thinking behind the test, and its current impacts, via Vishal Shah, Instagram’s VP of Product, who took part in an interview on ‘The Social Media Geekout’ podcast, which is hosted by social media expert Matt Navarra.

The interview is well worth a listen for anyone looking to get a better understanding of Instagram’s internal thinking, on many aspects, but on the hidden like counts test specifically, Shah provides an overview, and some explanations to help clarify where they’re at. 

Shah first notes that the origin of the hidden like count test came from internal feedback from its various teams.

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“This one came from the team that works on interactions and feed, so this team is incentivized to try to drive more likes [and] more comments, but in all of their user research, they heard so loud and clear that people felt like the public like count was a very high area of pressure for them when they produce content on Instagram […] the act of expression itself is what we cared about, not the validation, or perceived validation, that a public like count gets people.” 

Shah says that when Instagram was first launched, a public Like count made sense (“that was sort of a norm at the time”), but now, particularly when you consider the rise of the Stories format, public engagement metrics are no longer the things that drive behavior.

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“If people were deleting the stuff that they posted to feed because they felt like they were competing with themselves [or] they were competing with public figures and celebrities and influencers that they felt they could never be on an even playing field, we thought this was one of the most effective ways to even that playing field and remove some of that pressure for performing.”

Shah says this is one of the biggest changes that they have ever sought to make, and the reason that it’s taking so long to test is because Instagram’s internal team needs more time to be able to measure the true impact of the update before moving ahead. With such a significant change, Shah says, some shifts in behavior will occur in the short-term, but to really understand the behavioral effects, you need a longer time frame to see whether it’s actually altering usage.

And while he doesn’t go into depth about the results they’ve seen thus far, Shah does provide this little indicator of what’s happening:

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“We knew going into this that we would likely have to trade-off some amount of engagement to do this work, and we are very comfortable doing that if in the end it makes people more comfortable expressing themselves and sharing on Instagram.”

That would likely suggest that they are seeing a reduction in post engagement in regions where like counts have been removed.

That would align with a recent study by HypeAuditor, which found that total like counts have fallen for influencers operating within the regions where the test is active.

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HypeAuditor hidden like counts report

That test is confined to influencers only, but based on Shah’s comments, this may well be indicative of the broader trends – that people are, in fact, seeing less engagement on their posts, overall, as a result of like counts being removed.

What Shah doesn’t note, however, is how Instagram is measuring the relative success, or not, of the test.

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How will Instagram decide if it’s ultimately a success or a failure, and what metrics is it looking to improve as a result of the trial?

If there’s a reduction in the amount of people deleting their posts, is that an indicator of success?

One recent report suggested that the actual aim of Instagram’s hidden likes test is less about user wellbeing, as such, and more about getting users to post more often. CNBC reported last month that, according to three former Instagram employees, internal research at the company suggested that hiding like counts would “increase the number of posts people make to the service, by making them feel less self-conscious when their posts don’t get much engagement”.

That makes some sense, and as a side benefit, maybe it also reduces that performance pressure which Instagram is using as the main impetus for the change. Less pressure, more content – Instagram wins in the long term, and in that sense, it’s possible that increased post frequency per user is the key metric that Instagram is looking at in order to measure the ultimate success or failure of the trial.

Shah says they haven’t made a decision at this stage as to whether the test will be rolled out to all users, but he notes that they remain excited about the project, and that they will continue to push forward with the test.

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In addition to this, Shah also discusses the development of Instagram’s ‘Threads’ messaging app, the expansion of messaging access to the desktop version, and the future of the app more broadly. Shah shares a lot of interesting notes – if you’re looking to get a better understanding of the platform and where it’s headed, you can (and should) check out the ‘Social Media Geekout’ podcast here.

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So nothing concrete on the future of hidden like counts as yet, but it’s interesting to consider what these insights mean for the current impacts, as well as the motivations behind the actual implementation and success of the test.

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LinkedIn Makes its 20 Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses Freely Available Throughout August

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Looking to up your skills for a job change or career advancement in the second half of the year?

This will help – today, LinkedIn has published its listing of the 20 most popular LinkedIn Learning courses over the first half of 2022. In addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making each of these courses free to access till the end of the month – so now may well be the best time to jump in and brush up on the latest, rising skills in your industry.

As per LinkedIn:

As the Great Reshuffle slows and the job market cools, professionals are getting more serious about skill building. The pandemic accelerated change across industries, and as a result, skills to do a job today have changed even compared to a few years ago. Professionals are responding by learning new skills to future-proof their careers and meet the moment.” 

LinkedIn says that over seven million people have undertaken these 20 courses this year, covering everything from improved communication, project management, coding, strategic thinking and more.

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Here are the top 20 LinkedIn Learning courses right now, which you can access via the relevant links:

  1. Goal Setting: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with Jessie Withers
  2. Excel Essential Training (Office 365/Microsoft 365) with Dennis Taylor
  3. Interpersonal Communication with Dorie Clark
  4. Cultivating a Growth Mindset with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  5. Project Management Foundations with Bonnie Biafore
  6. Using Questions to Foster Critical Thinking and Curiosity with Joshua Miller
  7. Essentials of Team Collaboration with Dana Brownlee
  8. Unconscious Bias with Stacey Gordon
  9. Learning Python with Joe Marini
  10. Communicating with Confidence with Jeff Ansell
  11.  Speaking Confidently and Effectively with Pete Mockaitis
  12. Learning the OWASP Top 10 with Caroline Wong
  13. Power BI Essential Training with Gini von Courter
  14. Strategic Thinking with Dorie Clark
  15. SQL Essential Training with Bill Weinman
  16. Developing Your Emotional Intelligence with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  17. Communication Foundations with Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou
  18. Agile Foundations with Doug Rose
  19. Digital Marketing Foundations with Brad Batesole
  20. Critical Thinking with Mike Figliuolo
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If you’ve been thinking about upskilling, now may be the time – or maybe it’s just worth taking some of the programming courses, for example, so that you have a better understanding of how to communicate between departments on projects.

Or you could take an Agile course. If, you know, you don’t trust your own management ability.

The courses are available for free till August 31st via the above links.

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Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …

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Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.

Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.

Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.

Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.

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Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.

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Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.

Now, the active status will only appear when you are both active at the same time.#Instagram #instgramnewfeature@MattNavarra @instagram @alex193a pic.twitter.com/2chGZP9hr4

— Yash Joshi  (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021

Read next: Instagram Plans On Allowing Users To Return To Its Old Chronologically Sorted News Feed

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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